Morning Star Staff
On paper, the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League’s first-round playoff series between the North Okanagan Knights and Osoyoos Coyotes is a gross mismatch.
But the series is not played on paper.
The Coyotes – who enter Game 1 of the best-of-seven series Tuesday at the Sun Bowl having won their last 12 regular season contests – finished first in the Okanagan Shuswap Division at 41-9-1-1 (only the defending champion Kimberley Dynamiters had a better mark at 41-7-0-4).
Osoyoos tied for the most goals scored (224 with Beaver Valley Nitehawks) and set a new KIJHL record for fewest goals allowed in one season, 93. No other team allowed less than 100.
The Knights – losers of their last three and 2-7-0-1 in their last 10 entering the series – finished 48 points behind the Coyotes at 14-30-3-5, scored nearly half as many goals (116) and allowed 159 goals against.
The Coyotes boost the KIJHL’s scoring champion in Rainer Glimpel, who had 30-55-85. North Okanagan’s leading scorer, Graham Watkins, amassed 13-24-37.
The Knights, however, are the only Okanagan-Shuswap Division team to have beaten the Coyotes (who won the season series with North Okanagan 5-2-1) twice.
Both wins came in their last four meetings, both in Osoyoos, and the Knights are 2-1-1 in the last four with the Coyotes.
The Knights closed out the regular season Sunday with a 4-1 loss (Jordan Bautista, 1st) in Summerland, the back end of a home-and-home with the Steam, who won 4-3 at the Nor-Val Sports Centre Saturday. Trent Redschlag (7th), Patrick Nicholson (6th) and Austin Fournier (11th) scored for the Knights.
Fournier and Brady Marzocco (6th) scored for North Okanagan Friday in a 4-2 loss to the hometown Kelowna Chiefs.
KNIGHTS VS OSOYOOS COYOTES
Game 1: Tuesday Feb. 23, at Osoyoos;
Game 2: Wednesday, Feb. 24, at Osoyoos;
Game 3: Friday, Feb. 26, Nor-Val Sports Centre, 7:30 p.m.
Game 4: Saturday, Feb. 27, Nor-Val Sports Centre, 7:30 p.m.
Game 5*: Monday, Feb. 29, at Osoyoos;
Game 6*: Tuesday, March 1, Nor-Val Sports Centre;
Game 7*: Wednesday, March 2, at Osoyoos;
* – If necessary.